Mason Crosby of the Giants misses a field goal attempt late in...

Mason Crosby of the Giants misses a field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter against the Rams at MetLife on Sunday. Credit: Mike Stobe

The Giants lost a crazy game on Sunday.

They showed grit. They had miscues. They fought against a Rams team that, after a 26-25 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium, is  playoff-bound.

A lot of plays were made. Some, confoundingly, were not.

With 68 seconds to play, the Giants — trailing by a point thanks to a failed two-point conversion pass on their previous drive that should have been executed easily — had a final possession, and Tyrod Taylor's 31-yard run set them up for a chance at a winning field goal.

Confoundingly, on second-and-10 from the Rams' 34, the play called for Saquon Barkley to run up the middle. The play netted minus-2 yards.

The clock was running, the Giants were out of timeouts and the play call was mystifying — apparently, even to coach Brian Daboll.

“Yeah, I’d like to have it back,” he said.

He was asked if that was a check or if the play call was a run.

“Yeah,” Daboll said again, “I’d just like to have the play back.”

It made no sense.

On fourth-and-12, the Giants sent 39-year-old Mason Crosby out to try a 54-yard field goal. 

“It started turning left,” Crosby said, “and I stopped looking.”

The Giants were game. They just weren’t good enough and dropped to 5-11.

“There were a lot of plays that were made and a lot of plays that were left on the table, including by myself,” Barkley said. “It [stinks] every time you lose a game like that. It’s the NFL. You have to learn from it. We have one more week, have to try to finish up strong.”

Of the run call in the final minute, Barkley said: “I don’t know. I don’t call the plays and that’s not a diss at the coach or coaches. They probably knew the line we had to get to for the kick. And that’s the decision that they made. The Rams made a good play.

"If we run the ball, throw the ball, if they call the play and I get 20 yards, that’s a great call. That’s the NFL. We fell short with a lot of opportunities, but we also left a lot of plays on the field.”

The Giants' moxie and effort wasn’t an issue. Execution was.

With 3:39 to play in the fourth quarter, Rams punter Ethan Evans unleashed a 58-yarder that Gunner Olszewski returned 94 yards for a  touchdown. He was hit at the Giants' 22 but refused to go down and turned it into a huge play. Talk about momentum.

The Rams were called for encroachment on Crosby's ensuing PAT — the play was blown dead before the kick, which was right down the middle — and the Giants then chose to go for two. Taylor rolled out to the right and Barkley was wide open for what should have been an easy go-ahead conversion, but Taylor flipped a poor pass behind him that couldn't be caught.

“We had a new version of a play we scored on in the past,'' Barkley said. "It’s just that Ty and I didn’t connect. It was that simple. We just didn’t connect. I don’t want to get too much into it. I’ve got to make the play there.”

Barkley has plenty of practice in discussing reasons for Giants losses.

“A lot of plays were made, a lot of good plays. Offense, defense, special teams,” he said. “There were a lot of plays we left on the field, too. That’s the NFL. You can’t let that happen, especially when the margin of error is so small.”

For the second game in a row, the Giants got what could have been a game-changing play from Darius Slayton.

“Tyrod must have thrown his whole shoulder out to get it there,” Slayton said of the 80-yard touchdown pass. “He launched it. It had to be 60-some yards in the air. Great ball by him. And I ran it down.”

Actually, it was 61 yards in the air as Taylor — helped by a nice block by Barkley —  stepped up in the pocket and fired a perfect pass from the Giants' 12 to the Rams' 27. Slayton, who had beaten Ahkello Witherspoon, scored with 4:39 left in the third quarter to bring the Giants within 20-16.

Slayton also caught a 69-yard touchdown  pass from Taylor on Christmas Day in Philadelphia.

Where were those plays all season?

“You just run and try to take your shots when you can,” Slayton said. “A lot of times through the course of a season, they don’t pan out for a variety of reasons. I’m happy to have these two the past two weeks, and hopefully we go for three in a row.”

Asked about how he reconciles connecting two weeks in a row with Slayton on a big play but missing Barkley on a 2-yard pass, Taylor was philosophical.

“That’s part of the game,” he said after passing for 319 yards and rushing for 40 on six carries. “You play the game long enough, you’re going to make some throws, you’re going to miss some. Hopefully you make more than you miss but yeah, in that situation, just was a lack of execution on my end.”

For the Giants, there is one more game against the Eagles and then an offseason in which there likely will be many changes.

“I’m sure a lot of people say, what are you playing for?” Slayton said. “We’re not losers. I’m not a loser. Every time I go out there, I’m going out there to win. And today if we executed a little bit better, we would have been victorious.”

Wan'Dale Robinson scored on a 24-yard run on an end-around and Dane Belton had two interceptions and a fumble recovery for the Giants.

Kyren Williams ran for 87 yards and three touchdowns for the Rams. Matthew Stafford threw for 317 yards and a touchdown but also had his first two interceptions in the last five games as the Rams won for the sixth time  in the last seven games. 

Williams, the NFL's second-leading rusher coming in, scored on runs of 4, 2 and 28 yards. The 2-yard score was set up by an 80-yard catch-and-run by rookie Puka Nacua in the third quarter. Adoree' Jackson was unable to either tackle him or knock him out of bounds at the Rams' 22 after a short pass, and Belton finally knocked him out of bounds at the Giants' 2.

Rams kicker Lucas Havrisik missed two extra points to keep it close and Crosby missed one.

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